The Indian fauj by its apolitical nature remains the last bastion. Maintaining this equipoise is imperative
The controversy triggered by anti-national sloganeering on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on February 9 – attributed by campus residents to an outsider group – has snowballed into a bitter and emotive national debate outside and inside parliament.
JNU has become a no-holds barred/no-quarter given, zero-sum battle over what constitutes ‘nationalism’ and how supposed transgressions from the ‘norm’ must be dealt with.
Many institutions have joined this charged debate and some among them stand compromised or tainted. Here the conduct of the Delhi Police and the lawyers who resorted to vigilantism in Patiala House and attacked JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar are a case in point. Some media houses have also been guilty of the most deplorable lowering of professional standards.
By unfortunate happenstance, the JNU controversy erupted around the time when uniformed personnel have lost their lives in counter-terrorism operations and both Pathankot and Pampore have become synonymous with the surge of patriotic fervour – particularly in the audio-visual and social media. An avalanche in Siachen led to the tragic loss of more lives during the same period, including Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, who defied nature and the odds to survive – briefly – before he too alas, succumbed and was mourned by India.
Given this charged national mood and the anger over the anti-national slogans at JNU that was stoked by some constituencies, it was predictable that one cross-section of ex-servicemen would wade into the national debate and become the guardians of nationalism and the national flag, especially on TV debates. Every night, India has been witness to a surfeit of righteous indignation over the university’s many transgressions – some going back over the last 15 years – with this group of veterans demanding atonement and more.